be resilient during tough times. And here are we, living in a complex technological civilization reliant on fossil carbon compounds, already forced to work 40 or more hours a week, with an ER/EI approaching 15:1 and trending lower! 99 As we shall see, both the size of our energy surplus, and what we do with it, are likely to change dramatically for most of us in coming decades. TaaL: ( Gentle alien cough. ) Don’t make the mistake of considering hunter - gatherers “primitive.” Your hunter -gatherer ancestors of 30 thousand years ago had brains 10% larger than your own, 100 and in many ways lived far more complex lives. It may surprise you to hear present hunter-gatherers have so much leisure time. Your hunter-gatherer ancestors lived longer and healthier lives than the agriculturist populations which displaced them. 101 So why did they get displaced? Energy. Plant-eating agriculturalists get their calories from lower on the food chain, so more human biomass could be supported by the photosynthetic productivity of a given area. In effect, human hunter-gatherers displace other carnivores, while agriculturists displace herbivores, an inherently larger-biomass niche due to the rules of thermodynamics. This holds true for all living systems, from bacteria to technological civilizations. It “feels like” this doesn’t really apply to human systems in an absolute sense, but as you’ll see, the humans on Earth are no exception. Mostly your modern tribal leaders are focused on the gross returns from your monetary systems, neglecting how much energy and resources were used in the process. And that amount has been growing considerably. What is the requisite ER/EI of your target civilization, young human, and how will you arrive there? It is not I who poses the question, but reality herself.
The Bottom Line: Humans, and all human-created systems, are subject to the same energy limits as any living system.
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